The Austin Police Department has reported 15 fewer burglaries in West Campus this semester compared to the same period last spring, according to the APD Crime Viewer.
APD has recorded 26 burglaries since Jan. 22 in West Campus, which spans from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 30th Street and in between Lamar Boulevard and Guadalupe Street. During the same time period last spring, APD reported 41 burglaries.
The drop in burglaries this semester is part of a larger, ongoing decline of West Campus burglaries. Last fall, APD reported 38 burglaries — 14 less than the 52 in spring 2018.
APD Sergeant Matthew Sanders said aside from an information campaign in 2018, APD has not implemented anything concrete to prevent burglaries in West Campus. Sanders said the decline can possibly be attributed to the arrests of repeat offenders.
“One or two people working together can cause a high number of events in a small area like West Campus,” Sanders said in an email. “We have had suspects responsible for upwards of 50 burglaries before they are stopped. This causes a dramatic increase in the numbers.”
Sanders said there is no indication burglars target West Campus more than other areas in Austin, but he said doors are left unlocked at a higher rate than other parts of the city.
Of the 26 total burglaries this semester, one has been residential, five have been nonresidential and 20 have been vehicle burglaries.
“There are a number of reports that are things like ‘my ex-roommate broke in’ and ‘took my fill in the blank,’” Sanders said. “These type (of) reports will never go away no matter what we do, and they are typically limited to one victim, one suspect, one event.”
Joell McNew, president of the student safety advocacy nonprofit SafeHorns, said fewer burglaries is good for the neighborhood, but city and University officials need to create a plan to further prevent burglaries and secure West Campus.
“Any drop in crime rates is a positive sign,” McNew said in an email. “With the majority of students making West Campus home, there are still many improvements we’d like to see.”
To maintain this declining rate of burglaries, Sanders said APD is reacting quickly to burglary cases.
“We want to make arrests when suspects commit less than five offenses instead of allowing 30-plus offenses to occur before we make an arrest,” Sanders said.
Sanders said students should lock their doors and windows, document serial numbers for valuable items and invest in a security camera to prevent burglaries.
Marketing senior Wendi Liao said someone attempted to break into her West Campus apartment in February. Liao said although the possible burglar fled, the event was traumatizing.
“Even though burglaries are down statistically, I don’t feel any more comforted by it,” Liao said. “There’s other proactive things that police should do … It just seems like they’re saying that they’re trying stuff, but we don’t actually hear about it enough.”